James Jones Jarvis: Street Gang Member

James Jones Jarvis is a member of an elite group: the original Fort Worth street gang—pioneers who have a street named after them. (Other street gang members include John Peter Smith, E. M. Daggett, Baldwin Samuel, John Hulen, Robert McCart, and Richard Vickery.)

jarvis-map-1889Jarvis Street appears by 1889 on a map of the near South Side.

James Jones Jarvis was born in 1831 in North Carolina. He moved to Illinois with his family when he was twenty.

When Jarvis was a law student in Illinois in 1855, the man who gave Jarvis his bar exam and later signed his license to practice law was a lawyer who was making a name for himself in Republican Party politics (photo from the Gilder Lehrman Collection, New York).

Jarvis moved to Texas in 1856. He established a law practice in Quitman in Wood County and published a newspaper there. When the Civil War began he joined the Tenth Texas Cavalry and fought for the Confederacy, achieving the rank of major.

jarvis-70-censusAfter the war, Jarvis returned to Quitman. Note that wife Ida V. was born in Washington, D.C. She was the former Ida Van Zandt, daughter of Isaac Van Zandt, who was the Republic of Texas chargé d’affairs to the United States under President Sam Houston. Isaac Van Zandt negotiated the treaty by which Texas joined the Union in 1845. Ida also was the sister of Major K. M. Van Zandt.

About 1872 the Jarvises moved from Quitman to Fort Worth. Jarvis became a law and business partner of John Peter Smith. Smith and Jarvis would own several blocks of Main and Houston streets. Jarvis would become a city alderman, one of the original trustees when the city’s public school system opened on October 1, 1882, district attorney, an early partner in Fort Worth National Bank, and a state senator.

jarvis 86Jarvis served in the Texas Senate with Sam Houston‘s son Temple.

Jarvis helped to bring the Texas & Pacific (1876) and Santa Fe (1881) railroads to town and was a benefactor of Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, Add-Ran Christian College in Thorp Spring, Texas, and TCU (Jarvis Hall [1911]) is named for Jarvis and wife Ida).

The Jarvis Building (1884) downtown is one of the city’s oldest commercial buildings. The building features cast-iron architecture.

jarvis airship register 5-12Jarvis was one of the more prominent citizens who was said to have been an eyewitness during the rash of sightings of strange airships in 1897. Clip is from the May 12 Fort Worth Register.

jarvis estate

Jarvis lived “three miles north of the city,” where today Jarvis Heights addition and Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School are named for him. (Map from Pete Charlton’s “1000+ Lost Antique Maps of Texas & the Southwest on DVD-ROM.”)

jarvis 2 1-20-14 stJames Jones Jarvis died on January 20, 1914. He was living at the Westbrook Hotel. Clip is from the January 20 Star-Telegram.

Husband and wife are buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

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